Dating pewter plates

When a date appears as part of the touch mark it represents the year of registration of the maker with the London Guild and not the year of manufacture, so it can't be used to date the article.However, if the manufacturer is known the piece can be dated to a certain period, somewhere between the date of registration and death of the maker.Pewter is an alloy of tin hardened with small amounts of other metals such as copper, lead, zinc, antimony and sometimes silver.The craft of pewtering started in antiquity - the earliest known item, a flask dating from c1450 BC, was found in Egypt.

The maker was proud enough of his work to endorse the front with his (false but traditional) Hall Marks (including his initials) and the back with his own personal touch marks.

Pewter is believed to have been introduced to Britain by the Romans, who exploited the main source of tin in Europe at the time, which was in Cornwall.

The craft fell into decline after the Romans withdrew from Britain but it is thought that the Cistercian monks reintroduced it after the Norman Conquest in AD 1066.

Touch marks have no particular value apart from interest and a guide to the maker.

A touch mark bears no relation to the quality of the alloy, and does not carry the same authority as the hallmarks used on gold and silver.

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